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A People's History of the World: From the Stone Age to the New Millennium

“An indispensible volume”—Howard Zinn

Chris Harman describes the shape and course of human history as a narrative of ordinary people forming and re-forming complex societies in pursuit of common human goals. Interacting with the forces of technological change as well as the impact of powerful individuals and revolutionary ideas, these societies have engendered events familiar to every schoolchild—from the empires of antiquity to the world wars of the twentieth century.

In a bravura conclusion, Chris Harman exposes the reductive complacency of contemporary capitalism, and asks, in a world riven as never before by suffering and inequality, why we imagine that it can—or should—survive much longer. Ambitious, provocative and invigorating, A People's History of the World delivers a vital corrective to traditional history, as well as a powerful sense of the deep currents of humanity which surge beneath the froth of government.

Reviews

  • “I have had many people ask me if there is a book which does for world history what my book A People's History of the United States does for this country. I always responded that I know of only one book that accomplishes this extremely difficult task, and that is Chris Harman's A People's History of the World. It is an indispensable volume on my reference bookshelf.”
  • “The left ... has few accounts which convey as well as this book does the broad sweep of human history.”

Blog

  • "Though we fail, our truths prosper" - celebrating the Leveller John Lilburne's 400th birthday!

    This year marks the 400 anniversary of the birth of one of the great revolutionary democrats of British history, John Lillburne. 200 years before the Chartists and 300 before the universal suffrage became a reality in Britain, ‘freeborn John’ and the Levellers campaigned tirelessly for freedom and justice during the turbulent years of the English Revolution.

    In honour of this, and to mark this weekend’s conference to celebrate this life and work at the Bishopsgate Institute (featuring John ReesGeoffrey Robertson QC, Peter Flannery and more) we have an extract from John Lilburne’s pamphlet ‘England’s New Chains Discovered’. Written in 1649, and thus after the execution of Charles I, the abolition of the House of Lords, and the people being declared the origin of all power by the House of Commons, Lilburne argues that the republican government is reverting to a new form of tyranny. This marked the beginning of the end for the possibilities for radical change that emerged during the great social upheavals of the ‘century of revolution’. Yet, Lilburne’s pamphlet shows that the seeds of liberty still remained. As the incomparable historian of the 17th century Christopher Hill argued, ‘Each generation ... rescues a new area from what its predecessors arrogantly and snobbishly dismissed as 'the lunatic fringe,”’ and perhaps now more than ever can we learn anew from the Leveller’s fight for freedom.

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  • The Verso Undergraduate Reading List



    BACK TO UNIVERSITY/SCHOOL! 50% OFF EVERYTHING FOR ONE WEEK ONLY!

    Feeling underwhelmed by your orthodox assigned readings? Expand your knowledge of left theory, give your political arguments some bite, and spark a love for revolutionary writers with this updated list of essential Verso books for undergraduates.

    Whether you're a student of history, sociology, political science, or geography, look no further for key radical texts and indispensable primers on today's top thinkers. 

    The list is divided into Politics, Philosophy, Feminism, Postcolonial Studies, History and Geography - see below for our recommended reading in these areas.

    All of these books will be discounted by 50%, with free shipping and bundled ebook, when you buy through our website until midnight on Tuesday September 16th! Not all books are available in all regions (apologies!) and - of course - only whilst stocks last.

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  • Verso titles selected as Books of the Year 2011 across UK broadsheets and periodicals

    As the year draws to a close, newspapers have been asking the great and the good which books have most impressed them in 2011. Here we have collected the Verso books that were featured.

    In the New Statesman, Guardian and Observer Books of the Year round ups, Hari Kunzru selected two Verso books as standing out from other books published this year. He explained the appeal of the titles to the New Statesman:

    Hari Kunzru 

     With the Occupy movement gaining ground throughout the world,  McKenzie Wark's smart overview of the situationist movement, The Beach Beneath the Street: the Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International, feels particularly timely. For years, Laura Oldfield Ford, who is very influenced by situationism, has produced a fanzine, based on her derives around London, with words and beautiful, confrontational line drawings of the city's forgotten people and neglected places. Now, Savage Messiah has been collected in book form. It is a wake-up call to anyone who can only see modern cities through the lens of gentrification.

    In the Guardian feature on the Best Books of 2011, a number of Verso titles were selected by those asked.

    Eric Hobsbawm

    Among the 2011 books that came my way I particularly welcomed Owen Jones's Chavs, a passionate and well-documented denunciation of the upper-class contempt for the proles that has recently become so visible in the British class system.

    John Lanchester

    I loved two very different books of criticism...[one was] Owen Hatherley's furiously pro-Modernist A Guide to the New Ruins of Britain

    Pankaj Mishra

    Liberalism: A Counter-History by Domenico Losurdo stimulatingly uncovers the contradictions of an ideology that is much too self-righteously invoked.

    Ahdaf Soueif

    I'm reading Chris Harman's A People's History of the World. It's really helpful to zoom out from time to time when you're living massive events at very close quarters.

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    April 15, 2015 - June 22, 2015

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    Light Shining in Buckinghamshire

    Light Shining in Buckinghamshire tells the story of the men and women who went into battle for the soul of England. Passionate, moving and provocative, it speaks of the revolution we never had and the legacy it left behind.
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    May 07, 2015

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    The Putney Debates

    On Election Day, NT actors read from the 1647 debates about how this country should be run for the benefit of all.
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    May 21, 2015

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    Civil War: ancient and modern

    An examination of events in England in the 1640s and more recent parallels and resonances.

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